Faculty Focus is a monthly publication documenting the activities, accomplishments, and honors of the University of Houston Law Center Faculty.


March  2015


Editor, Katy Stein Badeaux, kastein@central.uh.edu


Previous editions of Faculty Focus can be accessed here.


Janet Beck spoke on a panel regarding “Domestic Violence Victims and Other Vulnerable Populations, A Pro Bono Initiative” sponsored by Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse.  Her presentation focused on domestic violence as it relates to asylum claims and how the student attorney/client relationship can be therapeutic for those who are suffering from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder based on their experiences of persecution in their home countries. Professor Beck also made a presentation, along with Professors Geoffrey Hoffman, Susham Modi, and Veronica Bernal, to a UH Honors College political science class. The Clinic Team spoke on immigration issues and also promoted the UHLC Pipeline program.


Aaron Bruhl presented a paper on statutory interpretation at Willamette University College of Law in early March. That same paper was recently accepted for publication in the Minnesota Law Review.


Johnny Rex Buckles presented “How Deep are the Springs of Obedience Norms that Bind the Overseers of Charities?” to the faculty of the University of Oklahoma College of Law on February 11, and served as guest lecturer on the charitable contributions deduction in Professor Jonathan Forman’s Federal Income Tax class at the same law school.  Also in February, Professor Buckles submitted the following entries for publication in the Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States (forthcoming): Creationism in the Public Square, Employment Division v. Smith, Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, and Military Conscientious Objection Legislation/Cases.


David R. Dow has received the 2015 Torch of Liberty award from the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association.  The award will be presented at the HCCLA’s annual banquet on May 14.


Jim Hawkins turned in his article Are Bigger Companies Better for Low-Income Borrowers?: Evidence from Payday and Title Loan Advertisements to the Journal of Law, Economics & Policy. He also arranged for the AALS Commercial and Consumer Law Section's upcoming panel to be published in the Columbia Journal of Law and Gender. The panel will be entitled “Female Perspectives in Commercial and Consumer Law.”


Tracy Hester spoke on March 14 in New Delhi at the National Green Tribunal’s international conference on global environmental issues. He addressed the application of international coercive measures to control possible climate engineering research and projects. On March 11, he helped organize and participate in the inaugural Energy Infrastructure Conference jointly sponsored by the UH Bauer School of Business as well as the Law Center. He also chaired the quarterly meeting of the Texas Environmental Research Consortium’s Board of Directors on March 5.  And on February 16 through 18, he participated in the Institute of Energy Law’s annual board meeting in Houston as the representative for UH Law Center.


Geoffrey Hoffman was quoted in the Quorum Report regarding confusion caused by rhetoric surrounding the President’s executive actions on immigration. Professor Hoffman’s op-ed, Houston Senator's 'illegal aliens' Bill is Itself Illegal, was published in the Houston Chronicle concerning Texas Senate Bill 174, which proposes denying community supervision to “illegal aliens.” The article is available online at http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Houston-senator-s-illegal-aliens-bill-is-itself-6099271.php. The op-ed was the subject of the criminal justice blog Grits for Breakfast, commenting on the constitutionality of the bill, available at http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2015/02/bill-to-ban-probation-for-illegal.html. Professor Hoffman spoke on a panel about immigration legal careers for the Office of Career Development. He also served as a guest judge for a practice round of the Law Center's Immigration Moot Court team coached by Adjunct Professor Susham Modi. Professor Hoffman’s article co-authored with students has been accepted for publication. The anticipated cite is: Geoffrey A. Hoffman et al., Immigration Appellate Litigation Post-Deportation: A Humanitarian Conundrum, 5 HLRe 143 (2015). On March 12, Professor Hoffman and the immigration clinic faculty presented a panel discussion on “Immigration, Citizenship, and the Law” to a group of political science undergraduate students at Cougar Place. Undergraduate faculty members teaching in the department were also present.  Also in March, the UHLC immigration clinic was awarded the 2014/2015 Pro Bono Hero award for the Central Region by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).


Craig Joyce presided over IPIL’s Spring Lecture and associated events, sponsored by Baker Botts LLP. The Lecture featured Professor Jeanne Fromer of NYU, speaking on “Should the Law Care Why Intellectual Property Rights Have Been Asserted?”  Richard Phillips, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for Exxon Mobil Corp., served as Commentator. The Lecture will be published in Houston Law Review.


Sapna Kumar's article, Regulating Digital Trade, was accepted for publication in the Florida Law Review. Professor Kumar presented her article at the Internet Work-In-Progress Conference in Santa Clara and at the Works In Progress in IP conference in Alexandria.


On March 6, Jessica Mantel spoke about the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case at a meeting of the Dallas-Ft. Worth chapter of the American Constitution Society. Her article, Spending Medicare’s Dollars Wisely: Taking Aim at Hospitals’ Cultures of Overtreatment, was accepted for publication by the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform.


Douglas Moll was invited by State Representative Jessica Farrar to testify in Austin before the House committee on the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence. Professor Moll testified in favor of a bill that would extend the ability to recover attorney’s fees in breach of contract actions from corporations to all business organizations.


Michael A. Olivas conducted a national online webinar on recent legal developments in the DREAM Act and DACA for MAGNA publications, for college student personnel workers and academic advisors. He briefed reporters on these issues, the re-filing of the Fisher v. UT case, and President Obama’s proposal to eliminate Sec. 529 College Savings Plans. In the Houston Chronicle, he published an Op-Ed on the forthcoming SCOTUS case Elonis v. United States, Rap Music and Criminal Justice: I Shot the Sheriff, But Not Really.


Jordan Paust’s article Operationalizing Use of Drones Against Non-State Terrorists Under the International Law of Self-Defense was published in 8 Albany Government Law Review 166-203 (2015), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2459649. His book chapter Remotely Piloted Warfare as a Challenge to the Jus ad Bellum, appears in The Oxford Handbook of the Use of Force in International Law 1095-1109 (Marc Weller ed. 2015).  His other book chapter, Responsibilities of Armed Opposition Groups and Corporations for Violations of International Law and Possible Sanctions, appears in After the RIO: Are Armed Opposition Groups and Corporations Next? Theoretical Considerations of the Responsibility of these Non-State Actors and Empirical Findings 105-123 (Noemi Gal-Or, Math Noortmann, Cedric Ryngaert eds. 2015).


D. Theodore Rave’s article When Peace Is Not the Goal of a Class Action Settlement was accepted for publication in the Georgia Law Review.


Jessica L. Roberts and Barbara J. Evans participated in a meeting at NASA discussing the role of genetic science in astronaut health on February 24 and 25. On March 5, the Journal of Law and Biosciences (peer-reviewed) published Professor Roberts’s peer commentary ‘Good Soldiers Are Made, Not Born': The Dangers of Medicalizing Ability in the Military Use of Genetics (available at http://jlb.oxfordjournals.org/content/2/1/92.full.pdf+html). Lastly, Professor Roberts accepted offers to publish her papers Rethinking Employment Discrimination Harms and Limiting Occupational Medical Examinations Under the ADA and GINA (co-authored with Mark Rothstein and Tee Guidotti) in the Indiana Law Review and the American Journal of Law and Medicine (peer-reviewed), respectively.


Susan Sakmar has been selected to serve on the European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction (Unconventional Hydrocarbon Network (UHN), https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/uh-network. Authorized by the European Commission, the purpose of the UHN is to bring together experts from around the world to collect, analyze and review results from unconventional gas and oil projects.  Professor Sakmar also attended the kick-off meeting of the UHN in Brussels on February 23-24.  Work on the UHN will take place over the next three years. Professor Sakmar also participated in the "Shale Gas in a Low Carbon Europe –The Role of Research” Conference held in Brussels at the European Commission on February 23.


Sandra Guerra Thompson announced the publication of her book entitled, Cops in Lab Coats: Curbing Wrongful Convictions Through Independent Forensic Laboratories, published by Carolina Academic Press.  She was also interviewed on February 10 by Houston Public Media (News 88.7) concerning District Attorney Devon Anderson’s criticism of the Harris County grand jury system. The same day, a PrawfsBlawg post named her as a recommended scholar for her work on eyewitness identification reliability.  On February 13, she was a panelist at the UHLC CLE program entitled, “Grand Juries, Policing, and Civil Rights.”  On March 5, the Criminal Justice Institute which she directs co-sponsored a program entitled, “Houston, We Have a Problem!" – A Community Forum to Address Overcrowding in the Harris County Jail,” held at TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law.


Bret Wells presented “Policy Implications Arising From Corporate Inversion Transactions" to the Tax Section of the Houston Bar Association on February 18.


Kellen Zale presented her paper on the sharing economy at the Annual Local Government Law Works-in-Progress Conference at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law on March 13. She has also been invited to be a panelist at the "Sharing Economy, Sharing City" Conference at the Urban Law Center at Fordham Law Center in April 2015.